ISI chief gets one-year service extension
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has given a one-year extension in service to Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha to allow him to complete his tenure as three-star general and, more importantly, as head of the country’s premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Sources told Dawn a summary for Lt. Gen Pasha’s extension, initiated by the Defence Ministry, had been approved by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
The summary, they said, had reached the General Headquarters (GHQ) through the Defence Ministry.
The news of extension has become public only a day after the army chief met President Asif Zardari and officials here believe that the matter may have been discussed at the meeting.
Lt. Gen Pasha is the fourth Lt. General to be given extension in service by the present army chief.
Although service extension is always viewed with scepticism, in the case of Lt. Gen Pasha it was widely expected but many believe it meets the merit criterion.
They say that although he reaches the age of superannuation on March 18, more than a year remains in his tenure as a three-star general.
Besides, some senior security analysts said, Gen Pasha was directly involved in major missions, most important of them being the security establishment’s decision to systematically eradicate the militancy culture and jihadi organisations from the country.
Gen Pasha is one of the few chiefs of ISI who have remained in close touch with the administration and have briefed members of parliament on the ongoing military operations in Malakand and tribal agencies.
Regarded by most serving and retired military officials as an upright and dedicated intelligence official, Gen Pasha is also considered to be a close confidant of army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. He served as Director-General Military Operations (DGMO) at the army headquarters and oversaw military engagements in Waziristan, Swat and other areas.
In October 2007, Gen Pasha was selected as military adviser to Secretary-General of United Nations, but due to his commitments as DGMO he did not join the UN.
Soon after coming into power, the present government tried to place the premier intelligence agency under the administrative, financial, and operational control of the Interior Ministry, but it failed to do so and had to shelve the controversial notification.
Lt. Gen Pasha was appointed as Director General ISI in September 2008, replacing Lt General Nadeem Taj, who had been appointed by Pervez Musharraf.
It may be mentioned that Nadeem Taj had been appointed ISI chief in place of the present army chief.